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The importance of community

This is something of a personal post, so please bare with me.

BME Calm

Back in the early 2000’s – maybe a little earlier – a crazy Canadian with a little website about tattoos and piercing started coding a social network to go with it. Taking the dark, scary biker world of body art and modifications into the online, modern world – and in the process changed my life. It introduced me to amazing people I would never have met. It introduced me to amazing concepts I didn’t understand or “get”, and extremes of the human phsychy I still don’t want to think too hard about.

It also introduced me to the concept of a community built on nothing but one guys dream, and a common goal – to create a place where “that thing we do” is accepted and encouraged and developed. This crazy Canadian was not only the master mind of this community, but he was it’s sole. He invited us into his world, his home (literally, he hosted parties in his back yard), his successes and failures.

Thanks to him, and his little community, I moved to the US and walked into a furnished apartment. Thanks to his community, I met my wife, and now we have a fantastic son. Our bridesmaid was from this community, and she met her husband there too (and they have two gorgeous little boys now) and he officiated our wedding. Many friends in my life today were originally from this little corner of the internet, and you may not know it – but if you have a body piercing today, or visible ink that gets accepted in your workplace and home, the chances are very high that somewhere along the lines, work by this crazy Canadian, and the folks from this little community in the early 2000’s has made it possible for you to not be labelled as a biker, or a thug.

This was all pre-Facebook. 10, 12 years ago.


Last night, as I was sitting with folks from *this* community, about to embark on the teams first group GoRuck Challenge and the team building process involved, I got a call that this crazy Canadian had passed away. My “old” community, and the friends, family, ties and bonds forged over 10 years ago called, and called hard.

So I left.

I’ve spent the subsequent hours thinking about what this guy did to my life, and how it parallels what we do here. Especially on the night of a GoRuck Challenge, when individuals are tested and pushed to the ends of their comfort zone and beyond – but they are ok, because they have the community to support them. I thought about the relationships that this newly birthed, wobbly footed community has growing in it, and the opportunities it’s providing to individuals within it, at least, those willing to go for them, and worthy of them.

It’s funny – we never set out to change lives. This crazy Canadian just wanted to talk about ink and steel with like minded people, and had to create a place for them to call home – just like we sit in this niche of “not quite runners, not quite professional athletes” and have had to forge our own home and identity. We find others who share our passions, and without trying, we inspire each other to do more, and be better. We train harder and discover new ways of “doing that thing we do”. We share knowledge and stories and pictures and experiences.

And friendships form. Relationships form. Careers and lives are taken in unexpected directions. We’ve only just hit 6 months, and look at what we, as a community have done. GoRuck was a watershed moment for roughly 30 Spahtens, and you will all be better individuals as a result, but more importantly – you’ll be a better team. You’ll be the core of the community.

I made life long friends and relationships in that community, over 10 years ago. It changed the world in so many ways (my world and *the* world). I want to be around *this* community in 10 more years, and see what we can do.

RIP Shannon, '73 to '13
RIP Shannon, ’73 to ’13
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